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Printrbot has designs on making 3D printing simple


November 27, 2011

Printrbot aims to be the smallest and the simplest to construct 3D printer on the market

Printrbot aims to be the smallest and the simplest to construct 3D printer on the market

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Since I was a small child, I've always wished that I had a machine that could produce anything I wanted at my command. Every once in a while, technology aligns with childhood wishes and you get magical products as a result. The Printrbot is one such concept. While 3D printers aren't new, the Printrbot aims to be the smallest and the simplest to construct on the market.

3D printers are devices are assembled to work with modeling software on your computer. You input a design on your computer, and the printer goes to work making the object you desire. To accomplish this, the printer deposits layer upon layer of material (generally plastic) until it replicates the object in its entirety.

The possibilities are endless when you think about how far a 3D printer can take you. Whether building small parts for repair or assembly, or printing prototypes of inventions or ideas, the 3D printer can get you there. Imagine a world where you can create a replacement part for the washing machine rather than ordering it online. That's what 3D printers are intended for, and that's what the makers of Printrbot aim to make simpler.

As mentioned, this isn't new technology. Where the Printrbot differs is its ability to bring this product to the masses. Until now, unless you were a real pro at tinkering with machinery and robotics, the 3D printer fell a bit outside of your knowledge level. Printrbot aims to put a 3D printer in every household by making the hardware smaller, and more accessible by simplifying the construction and modeling processes.

Printrbot is an original design which is based on inspiration from other designs, and makes full use of open source information. "We use the latest electronics and firmware, linear bearings, smooth drill rod with tight tolerances, a lasercut print bed, the most popular extruder design, mechanical endstops, a manufactured PCB heated bed, a simple hotend with replaceable tips, and it works with the latest open source software," says designer, Brook Drumm.

Most recently, Drumm pitched his idea on Kickstarter, for funds to make his dream of a 3D printer in every household and school a reality. The project was successfully funded to the tune of US$185,000 (so far) and Brook is in the beginning stages of sourcing parts with suppliers so that he can begin producing the Printrbot on a larger scale. He's currently preparing an order of 500 Printrbots thanks to the funding received through Kickstarter.

The beginners kit - which will need to be assembled - measures approximately 5 x 5 inches (12.7 cm) with upgrades available for 8 (20.32 cm) and 12-inch (30.48 cm) versions. The system runs off a 19v power supply and it will work with a variety of operating systems and software (ReplicatorG being suggested for beginners). Drumm also decided against sourcing parts from China. The Printrbot will be made in the USA.

A pledge of at least US$499 will reserve you a full kit, while $750 will be required for a fully-assembled model.

The video below shows one of the printers in use.


Yeah, well... You could make lego for your kids or vases like in the video. But I'd rather have some kind of metal forming (like with cad systems). If I'd live in the desert, I'd definitely use the sand-melting system that gizmag wrote about some time ago. :) http://www.gizmag.com/solar-sinter-3d-printer/19046/

Renārs Grebežs

What material does it print with I wonder...?

Jonny Ward

Seems pricey. If somebody is good mechanically and technically you can build a better one for less money. Just about everyone I know that would want such a device would fit that bill. The exceptions are a few artist friends that may be lacking technical know how.

Fred Ross

Or you can look at reprap.org where you can learn to build that printer now or buy a kit from someone who already has built a few.

Bryan Paschke

Could this not be made using Lego? To make more Lego?

Bas Klein Bog

Check out RepRap and MakerBot, these alread exist, and seem to work well; open source as well!

Rodger Evans

Wow! This is half the price of anything else I have seen. It is also expandable in each axis with longer rods, Z-axis lead screws, or X/Y timing belts. What a clever and simple design. ABS plastic is a good structural material to build things with. I have been building small CNC machines for over 30 years and I doubt I could build one for less (with new parts). I appreciated quality design work. I will have to seriously consider getting one of these for prototyping some of my small projects.

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